new International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) report reveals that press
freedom in China
suffered significant setbacks in 2011.
New Clampdown: Press Freedom in China 2011, released today by the IFJ Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong, reports that as the
scent of the Jasmine Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa drifted
central authorities tightened restrictions on the press, and stepped up
intimidation of journalists.
During the protests associated with the call for a
so-called “Chinese Jasmine Revolution”, scores of media workers, bloggers, human
rights lawyers, artists and activists were illegally detained and
tortured. Foreign journalists
were among those assaulted. Chinese authorities also suddenly
and unilaterally changed the regulations on news reporting for non-mainland
reversing many of the reforms introduced after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
report also outlines various cases where news stories were suppressed by Chinese
authorities, as investigative journalists and media outlets were
targeted for reporting perceived to be “negative” by China’s censors.
At least 16 mainland journalists were forced out of their work place, through
sackings or organisational restructuring under pressure from Chinese
authorities in 2011. Police also used state
secrecy lawsto harass and threaten a Chinese journalist investigating
the arrest of a civil servant in Luoyang, in
and assaults on journalists continue in Mainland China. One female journalist was attacked
outside her office, and another journalist was killed
and his laptop stolen while investigating the sale of reused cooking oil.
Despite these challenges, the IFJ was inspired by
many examples of courageous journalists in China taking a stand against
censorship. After a train crash in Wenzhou, in China’s south-eastern Zhejiang Province,
media were ordered by government propaganda departments to cease critical reporting of the disaster. Despite this,
many members of the media fought to resistthe order.
the journalists were subjected to official rebukes, fines,
suspension from their duties and demotions.
The IFJ was also buoyedby the
response of China’s
General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) to concerns raised by anIFJ
reportthat the government was allowing the creation of media
blacklists by government departments or institutions. The GAPPpublicly
pledgedthat it would not allow the development of such blacklists.
IFJ noted authorities in China
began to use more sophisticated methods to monitor and control the media in
2011. Authorities are now disseminating censorship directives verbally, rather
than in the written form, in order to avoid external scrutiny. A new body, the State Internet Information Office,was also established by the State
oversee the online media environment.
media landscape in Hong Kong also became
increasingly hostile in 2011. Five journalists were detained and charged with
criminal offences by police while exercising their duties as reporters. Journalists were stopped by security guards and police while reporting on the first
official visit to Hong Kong by Li Keqiang,
Vice Premier of China, in August. Furthermore, the Hong Kong Government selected
servant as the Director of Broadcasting of public broadcaster Radio
Television Hong Kong (RTHK), rather than an independent figure, disregarding
overwhelming public opposition to the appointment. In the private
sector, an independent investigation by the Broadcasting Authority of Hong Kong found that senior
management of Asia Television Ltd (ATV) had interfered with the editorial independence of its newsroom.
freedom in the Macau Special Administrative Region is also increasingly under
threat. The Macau Government is currently considering the establishment of a
statutory press council to oversee all media in Macau,
a proposal met with opposition by many local journalists.
report urges the Central Government of China and the governments of the Special
Administrative Regions to cease citing the protection of
privacy as an excuse to enact laws that jeopardise the people’s rights to
access of information and press freedom. The report also urges the Hong Kong
Government to enact access to information and archives laws, to facilitate
accountable and transparent governance.
the appointment of new senior leadership in 2012, China has an opportunity to fulfil
its commitment to create a more open, responsible society, and to uphold the
media’s role as a defender of the public’s right to information,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
IFJ calls on the Chinese Government to end censorship and restrictions, uphold
the rights enshrined in the country’s Constitution, ratify
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and issue orders to all
levels of government that journalists and writers must not be punished serving
the public interest in the course of their work”.
The report can be downloaded in English, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese here.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +852 91459145
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific